Tag Archives: Brown Act

The Los Angeles Police Commission Has A Use Of Force Committee — Which Meets In Secret — Which Is Against The Law Since It’s Pretty Clearly Subject To The Brown Act — So Today I Sent A Complaint To The Public Integrity Division Of The Los Angeles County District Attorney — Which Meant Essentially Nothing When Jackie Lacey Was In Charge — But Conceivably Things Are Different Now — Maybe?

This post is about a complaint I sent to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney alleging that the Use of Force Committee of the Los Angeles City Police Commission violates the Brown Act by meeting in secret. If you want a copy of the complaint without having to wade through my nonsense, here it is!

The Los Angeles Police Commission does not hold its meetings in a public-friendly manner. They severely limit comment time, for instance, and they also, at least pre-COVID, regularly have members of the public arrested. But as bad as they are they mostly don’t violate the Brown Act while doing it.1

However, it turns out that they have a bunch of committees, and it really looks like at least one of them, the Use of Force Committee, is itself subject to the Brown Act. But it meets in secret, and has done at least since 2011. This is against the law, of course, so today I sent this complaint about it to the Public Integrity Division of the LA County District Attorney’s Office.

Under Jackie Lacey these Public Integrity jokers didn’t do much,2 but perhaps things are different now? I guess we’ll find out! Read on for an html version of the complaint, although you’ll have to look at the PDF to see the evidence.
Continue reading The Los Angeles Police Commission Has A Use Of Force Committee — Which Meets In Secret — Which Is Against The Law Since It’s Pretty Clearly Subject To The Brown Act — So Today I Sent A Complaint To The Public Integrity Division Of The Los Angeles County District Attorney — Which Meant Essentially Nothing When Jackie Lacey Was In Charge — But Conceivably Things Are Different Now — Maybe?

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LAPPL and LAPD have been negotiating a revision of the department’s use of force policy as applied to police dog bites in secret at least since November 2020 — Police Commissioners are involved in the discussions via the LAPC’s Use of Force Subcommittee — which does not meet in public — and is only one of multiple secret subcommittees — none of which comply with the Brown act — used by the Commission to evade public oversight


LAPD, often acting through the Los Angeles Police Protective League, warps just about every aspect of municipal politics to serve its own twisted ends. They’re famous for their blackmail files on local politicians and all sorts of other intimidation tactics in order to strongarm them into supporting every aspect of the cop-first agenda. But it turns out that I had no idea of how deeply the LAPPL has insinuated itself into the terms and conditions of policing in this City until I read this October 2020 memo from LAPD sergeant Joseph Fransen to Chief Bea Girmala.

The context is a meet-and-confer process involving LAPPL and LAPD brass about when police dog bites are counted as a “use of force.” This is an official label, and its application has consequences for the officer. Per Fransen “the LAPPL views something being a use of force as de facto ‘bad'” and therefore they want it made harder to rule that a police dog bite counts as such.1 A November 6, 2020 update, part of the same memo linked to above, reveals that Girmala recommended that LAPD partially address LAPPL’s concerns.

The proposal was discussed by the Police Commission’s Use of Force Subcommittee on November 10, 2020 and again on March 9, 2021. As far as I can see it has not yet been considered by the full Commission.2 In other words, LAPPL, high-ranking LAPD officers, the Inspector General, and two members of the Police Commission have spent more than six months holding secret discussions of the rules under which police dog handlers operate.
Continue reading LAPPL and LAPD have been negotiating a revision of the department’s use of force policy as applied to police dog bites in secret at least since November 2020 — Police Commissioners are involved in the discussions via the LAPC’s Use of Force Subcommittee — which does not meet in public — and is only one of multiple secret subcommittees — none of which comply with the Brown act — used by the Commission to evade public oversight

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A Couple Of Newly Obtained Emails Reveal Hitherto Unknown Clues About The LA City Council’s Famously Habitual Brown Act Violations — All Fifteen Council District Chiefs Of Staff Held An Impromptu And Illegal Serial Meeting In March 2020 — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run But It’s Clearly A Violation And Clearly Neither The First Nor The Last Time This Has Happened — And Another Email — This From CD5 Enviro-Dude Andy Shrader To His Boss Koretz — Suggests That The Chiefs Aren’t The Only Staffers Doing This — He Mentions A “Daily Staff Meeting” That Includes Republicans Who Might Spill Beans To Other Councilmembers — Sounds Like Another Brown Act Violation To Me!

The Brown Act famously forbids the Los Angeles City Council and its committees from meeting in secret1 to conduct its public business. The prohibition is found at §54952.2(b)(1), which states categorically that:

A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.

But anyone who pays even a little attention to meetings of the Los Angeles City Council or its committees can see that there’s some kind of collusion going on behind the scenes. There are too many unanimous votes, too many obviously scripted comments by Councilmembers responding to scripted comments by other Councilmembers when there’s no legal way for them to have known what their colleagues were planning to say, and just too much foreknowledge of the course of legislation.

It’s really unlikely that the Councilmembers themselves make all the arrangements. Almost surely the collusion is done by their staff. This doesn’t make it any less against the law. It’s exactly the scenario contemplated in the phrase “directly or through intermediaries.” So for instance, if 15 staff members, one from each Council district, got together to discuss pending motions, votes, or anything else within the subject matter jurisdiction of the City Council and then relayed information from the discussion to their bosses it’s a violation.2

One of my very long term projects is finding proof that the City Council does in fact engage in these illegal meetings and also to understand the means by which they do it. It’s slow going, though, and not just because of the City’s general unwillingness to comply with the Public Records Act. What I’m looking for is evidence of habitual and chronic outlawry, so the City has even more pressing reasons to withhold the records.3 But from time to time I come across something interesting and suggestive, and today I actually have two!
Continue reading A Couple Of Newly Obtained Emails Reveal Hitherto Unknown Clues About The LA City Council’s Famously Habitual Brown Act Violations — All Fifteen Council District Chiefs Of Staff Held An Impromptu And Illegal Serial Meeting In March 2020 — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run But It’s Clearly A Violation And Clearly Neither The First Nor The Last Time This Has Happened — And Another Email — This From CD5 Enviro-Dude Andy Shrader To His Boss Koretz — Suggests That The Chiefs Aren’t The Only Staffers Doing This — He Mentions A “Daily Staff Meeting” That Includes Republicans Who Might Spill Beans To Other Councilmembers — Sounds Like Another Brown Act Violation To Me!

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Anyone Who Watches The Los Angeles City Council Closely Suspects Them Of Colluding Behind The Scenes — In Blatant Violation Of The Brown Act — But Man It Is Hard To Find Proof! — Cause They Do It By Whispering In Both The Literal And — These Days — Figurative Corridors — But A June 2020 Email From LAPD City Council Liason Harry Eddo To Chief Michel Moore Reveals That Ad Hoc LAPD Reform Committee Chair Herb Wesson Had Exact Foreknowledge Of The Fate Of A Number Of Motions — His Staff Told Eddo Four Days Before A Committee Meeting That They Would Pass On Consent After Extensive Public Comment — Is There Any Legal Way He Could Be So Sure? — I Doubt It!

You know how you go to a Los Angeles City Council meeting and all the action seems scripted and predetermined? That’s not an illusion. Obviously they decide everything in advance, or they did before everything changed last year. And this is completely illegal in California per the Brown Act1 but it is so freaking hard to catch them at it!

Not impossible, though. Scope this Sunday, June 21, 2020 email from LAPD City Council liason Harry Eddo to Chief Michel Moore discussing some of this summer’s flood of cop reform motions, these scheduled for the Wednesday, June 24, 2020 meeting of the Ad Hoc Police Reform Committee. Apparently it’s part of Eddo’s job to track such motions, ones that potentially affect LAPD, and help Moore plan responses.

Which by the way brings up an important question — why does LAPD have a person doing this job at all? If the idea is that the police are an instrument of civilian public policy, controlled by elected civilians to carry out the public’s purposes, then it’s hard to justify spending public money paying staff to monitor and influence the source of control. It almost looks like the LAPD is more concerned with institutional survival and control rather than with doing their jobs.2

So Eddo talks to Council staff, which I guess is what liasons do. And they talk back to him. And apparently, on June 21, 2020 or before, he talked to folks from the office of then-Chair Herb Wesson, who told him exactly what would happen with the motions: they would be approved “on consent after holding considerable public comment.” Wesson’s staff had it all figured out three freaking days before the meeting, and any of that “considerable public comment” that happened to oppose Wesson’s plans was wasted. It was all wasted, actually, even supporting comments:
Continue reading Anyone Who Watches The Los Angeles City Council Closely Suspects Them Of Colluding Behind The Scenes — In Blatant Violation Of The Brown Act — But Man It Is Hard To Find Proof! — Cause They Do It By Whispering In Both The Literal And — These Days — Figurative Corridors — But A June 2020 Email From LAPD City Council Liason Harry Eddo To Chief Michel Moore Reveals That Ad Hoc LAPD Reform Committee Chair Herb Wesson Had Exact Foreknowledge Of The Fate Of A Number Of Motions — His Staff Told Eddo Four Days Before A Committee Meeting That They Would Pass On Consent After Extensive Public Comment — Is There Any Legal Way He Could Be So Sure? — I Doubt It!

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City Of Los Angeles Staff Lie All The Time About The Public Records Act — And Also Did You Know That The Chief Legislative Analyst Prepares Briefing Notes For Council Committees? — Two Sets For Each Meeting — One Is For The Chair — The Other For The Members — And CLA Staffer Karen Kalfayan Had The Nerve To Claim These Were Exempt From Production — Even Though The Brown Act States Specifically That They Are Not Exempt And Must Be Released Immediately On Request

I can’t remember where I learned that the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst writes briefing notes for each meeting of each City Council committee, but obviously as soon as I heard I started trying to get copies via the California Public Records Act. And so on June 24, 2020 I fired off a request asking for a few years worth.

And you know how the City of LA is. I didn’t get a response at all until September 29, when CLA staffer Karen Kalfayan sent me this ill-considered bit of crapola, claiming that she would have denied my request as “overly broad” but that instead she was denying it as so-called “deliberative process,” a court-created interpretation of the CPRA at §6255(a):

With regard to your request for briefing notes for the period January 1, 2016 through June 24, 2020, please be advised that this Office has made its determination on your request as required by Government Code section 6253(c).

Please note that the request is overly broad, and normally we would request you to clarify your request in order for us to search for specific records. However, please be advised that records may be withheld under Government Code Section 6255 because they would show the officials’ deliberative process. As to these documents, Government Code Section 6255 permits nondisclosure because the public interest served by protecting the official’s decision-making process clearly outweighs the public interest served by the records’ disclosure.

But, you know, I had a thought about this. These briefing notes must be distributed to committee members, otherwise what’s the point? And the Brown Act, not the Public Records Act, contains a really important, really useful bit at §54957.5, also worth quoting:
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Staff Lie All The Time About The Public Records Act — And Also Did You Know That The Chief Legislative Analyst Prepares Briefing Notes For Council Committees? — Two Sets For Each Meeting — One Is For The Chair — The Other For The Members — And CLA Staffer Karen Kalfayan Had The Nerve To Claim These Were Exempt From Production — Even Though The Brown Act States Specifically That They Are Not Exempt And Must Be Released Immediately On Request

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Mark Smith Is LAPD Inspector General — Here Is His Appointment Calendar For January Through March 2020 — And The Harrowing Story Of How I Managed To Obtain These Records Despite Smith’s Lies — And Deliberate Misstatements Of Law — And General Obstructionism — Smith Rehearses Before Police Commission Meetings — And It Looks Like He And The Commission Met With The California DOJ Outside Of A Noticed Public Meeting — Which Of Course Is Against The Law Completely — Smith’s Job Is To Enforce Constitutional Policing — His Compliance With The Public Records Act Is A Fundamental Constitutional Right — In California — How Can He Be Trusted To Protect One Set Of Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights While So Freely Violating Another?

Here are three months of LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith‘s appointment calendars. There’s a lot of interesting information in there, including what sure looks like a Brown Act violation by the Los Angeles Police Commission. And the story of how I obtained these records is also interesting! And is revealed below! But first, here’s a selection of Smith’s calendar entries with some comments on ones that interested me!
Continue reading Mark Smith Is LAPD Inspector General — Here Is His Appointment Calendar For January Through March 2020 — And The Harrowing Story Of How I Managed To Obtain These Records Despite Smith’s Lies — And Deliberate Misstatements Of Law — And General Obstructionism — Smith Rehearses Before Police Commission Meetings — And It Looks Like He And The Commission Met With The California DOJ Outside Of A Noticed Public Meeting — Which Of Course Is Against The Law Completely — Smith’s Job Is To Enforce Constitutional Policing — His Compliance With The Public Records Act Is A Fundamental Constitutional Right — In California — How Can He Be Trusted To Protect One Set Of Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights While So Freely Violating Another?

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Chinatown BID Renewal Hearing Scheduled For September 29 At 10 AM — BID Renewal Hearings Are Regulated By Government Code §53753 Rather Than The Brown Act — The Main Difference Is That The City Is Not Allowed To Limit The Time For Public Comment At Such Hearings — The Law Explicitly Mandates That All Objections Must Be Heard — The City Ignored This In 2016 — And Thereby Messed Up The Venice Beach BID Establishment — It Is Also Essential For Anti-BID Property Owners To Return Ballots Opposing The BID — Because Of Quirks In The Law Unreturned Ballots Essentially Count As Yes Votes


For a little while it looked like George Yu had messed up the Chinatown BID renewal process and that there would be no BID for 2021. But Yu and Gil Cedillo, acting through his flunky Hugo Ortiz, maneuvering behind the scenes and off the record, managed to get the process back on track somehow and ballots have been issued announcing a hearing on September 29, 2020 to solemnize the renewal and allow the BID to continue operations in 2021.1

There are two essential things for activists to understand about this part of the process. First, anti-BID property owners MUST vote no and return their ballots. The BID will be established unless received votes against outweigh received votes in favor. Unreturned ballots essentially count as yes votes.2

The second thing is that BID renewal hearings are not regulated by the Brown Act. Instead they’re covered by Government Code §53753 The main difference is that, as Los Angeles activists know all too well, the Brown Act allows City Council to limit the total time for public comment but §53753(d) specifically forbids such a limitation:

At the time, date, and place stated in the notice mailed pursuant to subdivision (b), the agency shall conduct a public hearing upon the proposed assessment. At the public hearing, the agency shall consider all objections or protests, if any, to the proposed assessment. At the public hearing, any person shall be permitted to present written or oral testimony. The public hearing may be continued from time to time.

The City messed this up in 2016 when the Venice BID was being established. Herb Wesson, then president of the Council, cut off public comment and thus didn’t allow everyone to talk, as if it were an ordinary Brown Act hearing. The incomparable Shayla Myers of LAFLA wrote a demand letter to the City explaining the problem, and the City repealed the ordinance establishing the Venice BID and had to redo the entire process.

In any case, on September 29, when the Council is hearing objections or protests to the renewal of the Chinatown BID, they will have to hear all of them, every last one. Everybody gets to convey their feelings about the BID and about why it is a terrible idea to keep funding and empowering George Yu. And if there’s not time for everyone to talk on September 29, well, as the law says, “[t]he public hearing may be continued from time to time.” Here are a few things that might be worth mentioning, but there is so much more:
Continue reading Chinatown BID Renewal Hearing Scheduled For September 29 At 10 AM — BID Renewal Hearings Are Regulated By Government Code §53753 Rather Than The Brown Act — The Main Difference Is That The City Is Not Allowed To Limit The Time For Public Comment At Such Hearings — The Law Explicitly Mandates That All Objections Must Be Heard — The City Ignored This In 2016 — And Thereby Messed Up The Venice Beach BID Establishment — It Is Also Essential For Anti-BID Property Owners To Return Ballots Opposing The BID — Because Of Quirks In The Law Unreturned Ballots Essentially Count As Yes Votes

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Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

As you may well remember, earlier this year Senator Bob Wieckowski introduced the small but essential SB931. The Brown Act already requires public agencies to mail copies of agendas to members of the public on request.1At §54954.1 This bill would require them to email them if asked to.

It’s very strange but sadly true that there are plenty of little backwater agencies, mostly business improvement districts and charter schools, who are so intent on obstruction that they will refuse to email agendas even though it’s free, even though they already email agendas to people they approve of. They will insist that the law only requires them to mail agendas.

And don’t get me started on how they send them via certified mail so that if people miss the first delivery it’s essentially too late to find out what the meeting is about. And if it’s a special meeting? Or if someone’s unhoused and doesn’t have reliable mail service? Forget it. So like I said, this is a minor problem, something these agencies ought to be doing anyway but some of them just won’t and Wieckowski’s bill will fix it.

As far as I know there’s no organized opposition. I mean, what are they going to say? That they enjoy exploiting this unfortunate loophole to mess with people? But there’s a lot of support! I already wrote about the letter sent by our friends at the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition. The California News Publishers Association sent a nice little letter. And just the other day I learned that Oakland Privacy, a group I hadn’t heard of before this, wrote a really extraordinary, really dynamic letter in support.

You can read the entire thing below, but they raise a really important point that no other support letter has brought out in such detail. That’s the fact that if members of the public want to monitor the agendas of many local agencies to see if they want to comment on specific items, essentially their only practical choice right now is to check the agencies’ websites regularly.

For people or groups that monitor tens or hundreds of agencies this is not only time-consuming but also unreliable. Requiring notifications by email would solve this problem. Anyway, as I said, read on for the full letter, and if you have a moment, why not drop Wieckowski a line or call him in support yourself?
Continue reading Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

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The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

It’s so darn bandied-about that it’s become easy to forget that Abraham Lincoln’s perfect description of the American form of government,1 or at least its to-be-constantly-striven-for ideal form, as “of the people, by the people, for the people” has a great deal of meaning packed into it. In particular, if government is to be of and for the people then the people have to have access to the spaces in which its work is done and advance notice of when it’s happening.

And governments being what they are2 they would often prefer to keep people out of the process entirely by making their decisions and doing their work in secret. To prevent this, to preserve Lincoln’s ideal, we need laws to protect our access. In California such access is protected by the Brown Act.

One of the rights protected by the Brown Act is the right to have notice of the time, place, and subject matter of upcoming meetings. This protection comes in two forms. First, §54594.2 requires agendas to be posted in public and on the web 72 hours before a meeting.3 But of course, this is only sufficient if you remember to check the posting location or the website. If you don’t or can’t do that you’re out of luck.
Continue reading The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

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The Accelerated Schools Issue A Complete — Utter — Abject Capitulation To My Demand That They Stop Violating The Damn Brown Act By Illegally Requiring People To Sign In As A Condition Of Attendance — They Unconditionally Commit Never To Do It Any More Ever Again — And Wayne K. Strumpfer — Their Lying Ideologue Of A Lawyer — Asserts That They Were Only Ever Making People Sign In Because It Prevents School Shootings — Which Sounds Not Only Implausible To Me But Actually Moronic — But Probably That’s Only Because I’m Not A Galaxy Brain Privatizing Charter Genius Like Strumpfer And His Clients

In October 2019, as you may recall, the infamous white savior rogue charter conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools held a board meeting at which they committed three distinct and shocking violations of California’s quintessential government transparency law, the Brown Act. One of the most appalling of this series of thoroughly appalling transgressions was their requirement that members of the public sign their names to a sheet in order to enter the public meeting.

This, of course, is explicitly forbidden by the Brown Act at §54953.3.1 TAS attempted to excuse this outlawry by claiming that they weren’t requiring a signature to attend the meeting, but just to enter the school grounds on which the meeting was being held. This is nonsense, of course, but nevertheless typical of the kind of empty technical loopholes that arrogant privileged zillionaires and their minions seem to believe are all it takes for them to evade their legal obligations.2

And so on December 18, 2019, in accordance with the procedures mandated by the Brown Act,3 I sent them a letter demanding that they unconditionally commit never to ever require people to sign in to attend their meetings and informing them that if they didn’t completely obey me within 30 days I was going to file a petition asking a judge to (metaphorically) slap some damn sense into them.

And lo! Just yesterday, TAS’s metaphorically mobbed up lawyer Wayne K. Strumpfer of privatizing powerhouse law firm Young Minney & Corr, who’s basically a liar and enabler of outlawry but evidently knows a losing position when his clients manage to back themselves into one, sent me a letter utterly and abjectly capitulating to my demand!

But before he got around to the utter abjection Dr. Strumpfer went on and on and on explaining to me that The Accelerated Schools actually did nothing wrong, that I pretty much made everything up, that his clients only acted according to the very highest motivations, and that requiring people to sign in to attend meetings is how TAS prevents school shootings! And I guess that that’s working because as far as I know they haven’t had any.

On that subject, it’s interesting that Strumpfer doesn’t say a word about the fact that TAS chooses to have its meetings on school grounds during school hours when schoolchildren are present even after parents have been pleading with the board literally for years to have meetings in the evening so that working people have a chance to attend. One might think that having meetings at times when no kids were around would be a more effective way to protect the kids than having people sign a piece of paper, but admittedly I know nothing whatsoever about whatever kind of eleven dimensional galaxy brain hypercrapola in which these TAS people and their shyster lawyer have earned an average of 2.7 Ph.Ds each.4

In any case Dr. Wayne finally gets around to the actual point, which is that they don’t want to get sued by me so dammit, they concede everything! The only actual concrete effect of this concession5 is that if they ever require people to sign in to their meetings I can sue them without giving them notice or even asking them to stop. Which I totally will do, by the way! So that’s a little victory over the satanic minions of privatization. Read on for a complete transcription of Wayne K. Strumpfer’s jittery little surrender letter!
Continue reading The Accelerated Schools Issue A Complete — Utter — Abject Capitulation To My Demand That They Stop Violating The Damn Brown Act By Illegally Requiring People To Sign In As A Condition Of Attendance — They Unconditionally Commit Never To Do It Any More Ever Again — And Wayne K. Strumpfer — Their Lying Ideologue Of A Lawyer — Asserts That They Were Only Ever Making People Sign In Because It Prevents School Shootings — Which Sounds Not Only Implausible To Me But Actually Moronic — But Probably That’s Only Because I’m Not A Galaxy Brain Privatizing Charter Genius Like Strumpfer And His Clients

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